Composting basics

Gardens are a great way to help lower your grocery bill, get you moving around for some physical exercise, and provide a sense of pride that, “Hey, I grew that!” It’s simply satisfying. And one way to ensure that a garden grows to its fullest potential is to fertilize it with a layer of composted dirt. Want to start a compost bin of your own? Here are some tips.

Compost being spread over dirt in a raised bed.
Compost being spread over dirt in a raised bed.

What to put into your compost:
– Fruit and veggie scraps, peels and rinds
– Coffee grounds and filters
– Tea bags and tea leaves
– Used paper napkins, plates (no waxy coating) and paper towels
– Newspaper and other non-colored paper with only black print (no colors!)
– Plain cooked pasta or rice
– Stale cereal, bread, and crackers
– Olive pits, nut shells (not walnuts)
– Wine corks
– Toothpicks and bamboo skewers
– Shells (eggs and crustacean)

What NOT to put into your compost:
– Meat or fish
– Bone
– Dairy products
– Grease
– Animal/human waste
– Weeds, diseased plants, roots
– Charcoal ash
– Plastic or glass

It doesn’t hurt to mix organic dirt or organically produced livestock manure for a good base as you build the rest of your compost. And it’s helpful to have a nice balance of wet (veggies, plants) with dry (coffee grounds, paper) materials.

Good luck, and enjoy your fresh dirt and future gardens!

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A personal look back at the year that was 2012

As I tentatively begin to step into the pristine landscape of 2013 and leave my footsteps behind me, it seems inevitable that I would look back at the past 12 months and contemplate the year that was 2012.

What a whirlwind year it was, after pulling myself out of a personal year-long hell in 2011. I’m healthy. I’m happy. And even my blogs have gotten better over a year’s time. I’ve started a Facebook page. I’ve even begun my education at a second school. I’ve tried strange things, such as cactus pads in my salad, and making raw foods. I even made kale chips in my new dehydrator. I have vastly improved my personal yoga practice. The other day, I found myself actually giving sound nutrition suggestions to people “coming down with something.” It surprised me that I had it in me!

Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a "Wok"-y holiday, and cooked lots of stuff I'd never heard of before.
Me cooking this year, something I did a LOT of in 2012. One thing I love about nutrition, is applying it in the kitchen. Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a “Wok”-y holiday, and I cooked lots of stuff I’d never heard of before. And it was all healthy and good for you.

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It’s amazing what a year can do for you.

For instance, this year has been a year of learning new things. As a health and nutrition nut, here is a list of personal buzz words I’ve welcomed into my vocabulary in 2012:

– Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
– Organic
– Processed foods
– Omegas (3s, and 6s)
– Farmer’s market
– Fad Diets
– Paleo
– Plant-based diets (Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian)
– “Eat the rainbow!”
– GMOs
– Pesticides/herbicides
– Documentaries
– Allopathic/Holistic
– Supplements
– (Essential) Nutrients
– Legumes
– Diet-related illnesses (Diabetes, cancer, hypertension/high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease)
– Obesity epidemic
– Lactose intolerance
– Deficiencies/Toxicity (vitamins, minerals, water)
– Empty calories
– Nutrient dense foods
– Sustainability
– Grow gardens, not lawns
– Heirloom seeds
– Free radicals/antioxidants
– “Let food be thy medicine”
– Hippocrates, the father of medicine
– Functional foods
– Protein, lipids, and carbs
– Soy
– Macro/micro nutrients
– Artificial sweeteners
– Folate
– BMI
– ATP
– HDL/LDL
– Phytochemicals
– RDA
– TCA Cycle
– Contaminants

I am pretty sure there are hundreds more, too. But these are just those off of the top of my head. Any of them sound familiar to you?

It’s amazing to me that I’ve discovered that much over just 12 months. And 2013 looks just as promising. Recently, I closed my eyes and jumped into nominating myself as a student delegate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Student Advisory Council. Now, let me clarify: I have NEVER been on a committee in my entire life. I haven’t felt passionate about anything in my 30 years of life to want to join a committee related to it. But this year, I gave it a whirl. I am getting tired of all the books and online tests, and no real-world application or interacting with others who share my passions. Besides these blogs (which I’ve fallen behind on writing of late), I don’t feel like I am reaching enough people to make an impact with all of this amazing knowledge I continue to acquire. I can’t WAIT to start making a difference.

For now, though, I await the long, arduous process in store for me before I know whether I am chosen to serve on the council starting in June. Phew! Wish me luck, guys.

A friend of mine told me that 2013 was “going to be my year.” We’ll see what happens. The journey of 2013 so far looks pretty tame. I will be finishing my holistic nutrition program in June. I’ll peck through a few more required courses for my traditional dietician technician program, and maybe start making cards and practice some holistic nutrition counseling by the end of the year. I even kicked around the idea of starting a really basic online magazine. This time next year, though, I think I will start yoga instructor training. I want to get my that Western herbalism program under my belt, but – ah, one thing at a time.

So this year, I want to take a tai chi class. I want to travel. I want to cook and try foods I’ve never heard of before. I want to blog about topics that intrigue me, with touching prose. I want to take beautiful pictures. I want to dig out my three-year-old raised beds out of my garage, and finally start my little garden. I want to meditate. I’d love to learn how to crochet. I’d like to finish at least one cross stitch project. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy this year’s journey.

Viva la 2013!!!